Nobody is perfect. We all have those weird and sometimes gross habits that make us all uniquely and wonderfully human. But when you’re working in an office full of people, it’s best to keep those weird quirks to a minimum.
Are you worried you might be unknowingly turning yourself into the office pariah? We’ve got your back. Here are the top 15 annoying habits that are driving your coworkers insane.
1. Leaving Dirty Dishes in the Sink (or on Your Desk)
Let’s be real. No one actually likes cleaning dishes. However, that doesn’t mean you can let putrid dishes pile up in the sink, or even worse, on your desk. I hate to break it to you, but there are no magical dish fairies that come out at night to whisk away your dirty dishes and magically clean them so you can destroy them again the next day. In reality, your company’s facilities manager, night cleaning staff, or your own coworkers are forced to pick up your slack to clean your dishes so they are available for others to use.
2. Forgetting Leftovers in the Fridge for Weeks
You get your favorite sandwich from that place down the street, but it’s just too filling to eat in one sitting. So you do the logical thing and put your leftovers in the communal fridge because you’re totally going to take your sandwich home and eat the rest for dinner, right? At least that’s the idea, but suddenly it’s six weeks later, and your leftovers have gone from delicious to biohazard. And one unlucky soul must brave the horrific smell and pick up the unnaturally leaky bag to dispose of the rotten sandwich. Gross!
You have the power to save the office from rotting food disasters. Write a reminder on a sticky note and attach it to your monitor, or create a calendar event that pings you right before you leave for the day. And the best part is, you’ll never miss out on those delicious leftovers ever again!
3. Eating Super Smelly Food at Your Desk
We’re all busy, and sometimes it’s just more convenient to eat your lunch at your desk while you are working against a tight deadline (but beware, eating at your desk has proven to be bad for productivity). But it’s important to remember your dear deskmates in your open office when you’re deciding to eat at your desk. Try to steer clear of overly smelly foods. That smell lingers for hours.
Of course, if you have no other choice, we will be understanding, but for the sake of your coworkers, please destroy the remnants at least 50 feet away from the office as soon as you finish eating. I suggest using fire to be sure.
4. Blasting Music in your Headphones
There are plenty of studies out there that show the benefits of listening to music while working. I love listening to a film soundtrack while I do some writing (currently playing: E.T. The Extraterrestrial by the incredible John Williams). Fun fact: keeping the volume of your music to a minimum not only saves your coworkers from going insane, it will also benefit you in the long run because you won’t be deaf when you’re old.
Many modern offices are equipped with awesome speaker systems that give employees the power to play music in their area of the office. Always make sure everyone is on board with playing music. Some keys to success include setting up specific times of day that are best for playing music and creating a list of favorite bands/genres so everyone’s music tastes are accommodated.
5. Not Using Your Indoor Voice
We all learned about using our indoor voices when we were in school. At any given time someone in your office is on the phone, in a meeting, or concentrating on a difficult task. Be considerate of your coworkers by keeping the chatter down a decibel. If you must shout (shout, let it all out) take a step outside.
6. Poor Personal Hygiene
I will do my best to save you from the gory details. It’s all about common courtesy here. For example, if you hit the gym in the morning, maybe take an extra second in the locker room to take a quick shower before you head to the office. We’re all in pretty tight quarters, and as much as we love that you are taking care of yourself by exercising regularly, we don’t want to be enveloped in the post-workout funk emanating from your body.
On another note, the office is not the same as your own home. Work hours are not the time to clip or file your nails at your desk, walk around barefoot, brush your teeth in the kitchen sink, or any of the other luxuries you can enjoy in the privacy of your own home.
7. You’re Never at Your Desk
I get it. I struggle daily with sitting at my desk for the full work day. When I get really antsy I usually gravitate to an empty couch or a stand-up desk in some other department. There is no ball and chain keeping you at your desk (I hope), but there is nothing more frustrating than repeatedly walking by someone’s desk and they’re never there. Worse yet, they’re not available via email, slack, G-chat, or any other communication app. If you’re going to be away from your desk, make sure your coworkers know how to get a hold of you.
8. Unresponsive on Email, Slack, G-chat
This relates to the above annoying habit. If you’re working from home or are a remote employee, communication is crucial. Make sure when your Slack or G-chat shows you’re available, you’re actually available. There’s nothing worse than trying to chat someone and get no response, but you see that evil green circle that tells you they’re supposed to be available. Don’t toy with our hearts. It’s okay to be busy, just make sure you properly communicate when you’re not available to chat.
9. Hi-Jacking Conference Rooms
Every office has a standard system for reserving conference rooms. It is the one thing that keeps us one step away from total chaos. Last minute meetings and calls happen, but that doesn’t give you the right to steal a conference room that someone else has booked. When you do that you’re basically telling your dear coworkers that you think you’re more important than they are, and that’s not nice (and hopefully not what you think!).
Try getting a hold of the co-worker who has booked the conference room you need, maybe they can find another conference room, or move around their schedule for you. We’re all in this together, so let’s be courteous of each other’s time.
10. Stealing Office Supplies from Coworkers’ Desks
Borrowing a pen from a coworker is totally fine. We all get our pens and paper from the same supply closet. But if you routinely walk off with your coworkers’ pens, don’t be surprised when they mysteriously stop having pens for you to borrow. Keep a supply of pens and paper at your own desk, and take some with you when you go to meetings or to escape your desk. You never know when inspiration may strike. Always be prepared.
Also, it’s also probably not a good idea to chew on your coworkers’ pens. They won’t want them back after that.
11. Leaving Your Cell Phone on Full Volume
I’ll admit it. I have my smartphone on my desk at all times. I even check it from time to time, I’m only human after all. Be considerate of your fellow office mates and turn your phone on silent. No one wants to hear Fetty Wap blasting on your phone while you’re in the kitchen grabbing a snack. And the constant buzzing of tweets and will drive your coworkers bananas as well.
If you need to take a personal call during work hours, take a step outside and spare your coworkers from the scandalous details of last Saturday night.
12. You’re Always Late to Everything
A missed calendar notification, losing track of time working on an intense project — it happens to everyone. But being consistently late to all meetings is not a good look. Everyone will appreciate when you make the extra effort and it will make meetings more productive. This is especially important if you are dialing into a conference call. You never know when technology decides to fail completely, so dialing in a little early will help make sure no one is wasting meeting time trying to figure out the audio or screen sharing situation.
13. Finger/Pencil Drummer and Foot Tapping
I am a serial toe tapper. I am almost constantly shaking my leg while working. I don’t even notice it most of the time until I see that my monitor is shaking like there is a 4.8 earthquake. I know this must drive my deskmates insane (I’m sorry). It drives me insane too!
When you’re thinking hard about a work problem, it may help to tap your finger on your desk or repeatedly click a pen. But for the sake of your coworkers’ sanity try your best to refrain. It is extremely distracting and will ruin the productivity of everyone around you.
If you’re feeling extra antsy, try taking a quick walk around the block to release some energy. That brief break will do more for your productivity than hours of foot tapping.
14. @channel the Employee Channel on Slack or Reply All on an Employee Email
I realize not all companies use Slack, but I cannot stress enough the importance of etiquette in workplace chat apps. I won’t go into great detail about Slack etiquette (you can read all about it here). Instead, I am going to highlight one of the biggest Slack fails. Unless the building is on fire, infested with brain eating amoebas, or some other kind of catastrophic event, under no circumstances should you ever use “@channel” in the employee Slack group. You are annoying every single person in the company at once (including your executive team!), and odds are you really only need to get the attention of a few people.
Same goes for replying all in an all employee email. If you have questions, the best person to contact is probably the sender of the email in which case you can simply hit reply and move the conversation out of the larger thread. And please, don’t be that guy that hijacks the all employee email threads just to make a joke. We get it, you’re the funny guy but our overflowing inboxes don’t have room for your unnecessary chatter. Take it to the chit-chat channels on Slack where your humor will be appreciated.
15. Invading your Coworkers’ Personal Space
In the wise words of The Police, “Don’t stand so close to me.” Be aware of everyone’s personal bubble. You don’t want to accidentally put your coworkers on edge by awkwardly invading their personal space. Read the situation, and make sure you’re not making anyone uncomfortable. This kind of blunder can land you in an extremely awkward situation with your HR team.
Do any of your coworkers have annoying habits that are driving you insane? Share them in the comments below!